Don't Miss Out

Subscribe to OCA's News & Alerts.

Dupont Tops List of 100 Most Toxic Air Polluters

AMHERST, Massachusetts, May 15, 2006 (ENS) - Which are the most toxic air polluters in the United States? The Political Economy Research Institute (PERI) at the University of Massachusetts has answered that question with the Toxic 100, an updated list of the top corporate air polluters issued Thursday. The Toxic 100's top five companies are E.I. DuPont de Nemours & Co., US Steel, ConocoPhillips, General Electric, and Eastman Kodak.

"The Toxic 100 informs consumers and shareholders which large corporations release the most toxic pollutants into our air," says James Boyce, director of PERI's environment program.

"We measure not just how many pounds of pollutants are released, but which are the most toxic and how many people are at risk," Boyce said. "People have a right to know about toxic hazards to which they are exposed. Legislators need to understand the effects of pollution on their constituents."

The Toxic 100 index is based on air releases of hundreds of chemicals from industrial facilities across the United States. The rankings take into account not only the quantity of releases, but the relative toxicity of chemicals, nearby populations, and factors such as prevailing winds and height of smokestacks.

The Toxic 100 index identifies the top air polluters among corporations that appear in the "Fortune 500," "Forbes 500," and "Standard & Poor's 500" lists of the country's largest firms.

A new feature of the online list is that readers can see the details behind each company, such as individual facilities owned by the corporation, specific chemicals they emit, their toxicities, and their contributions to the company's overall Toxic Score.

The data on chemical releases come from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's Toxics Release Inventory (TRI). But PERI says that reports based on these data alone have three limitations:

Raw TRI data are reported in total pounds of chemicals, without taking into account differences in toxicity. Pound-for-pound, some chemicals are up to ten million times more hazardous than others.

TRI data do not calculate the numbers of people affected by toxic releases - the difference between facilities upwind from densely populated urban areas and those more sparsely populated.

TRI data are reported on a facility-by-facility basis, without combining plants owned by one corporation to get a picture of overall corporate performance. The Toxic 100 index tackles all three problems. It includes toxicity weights and the number of people at risk using 2002 data, the most recent available from the EPA's Risk-Screening Environmental Indicators project. PERI researchers added up facility-by-facility data from the EPA to get corporate rankings. "In making this information available, we are building on the achievements of the right-to-know movement," Boyce explains. "Our goal is to engender public participation in environmental decision-making, and to help residents translate the right to know into the right to clean air."

For further information, contact Professor Michael Ash at 413-545-6329 or visit PERI's Corporate Toxics Information Project.

* * *